Travel Rewards cards are a special class of credit cards reserved primarily for people who travel frequently. Offering great deals on things like flights, hotels, and car rentals, these cards can prove quite lucrative for the jet setters of this world.
There are several types of travel rewards credit cards to choose from, the major distinction being between fixed-rate and transferable. Fixed-rate cards restrict the ways in which you can cash in your points. This isn’t necessarily a problem, it just means you are limited to specific hotels, airlines, and car rental companies, etc.
Transferable rewards cards, on the other hand, give you the flexibility to redeem your points however you choose. Whichever type of card you choose, pay attention to the reward rates and bonuses they are offering you.
These cards all offer something slightly different to each other and will probably suit different travelers and spenders. Never the less, these are -in their own way – the best travel rewards cards on offer in 2020.
#1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Annual Fee: $95
- Bonus Offer: 60, 000 points on $4000 expenditure in the first 3 months
- Reward Rate: 1 point/dollar on regular purchases. 2 points/dollar on travel purchases
- Interest Rate: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After 16.74 – 25.49%
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great way to make savings from your travel.
Firstly, the loyalty points earned with this card can be transferred, so you don’t get fixed with one particular card. Nor do you have to “spend” your loyalty points within any particular loyalty program as with some rewards cards. However, if you do decide to redeem your travel rewards points on something travel-related, they actually work out to be 25% more valuable than they would otherwise.
The card has an annual fee of $95 and requires a good credit score to be eligible. In addition, spend over $4,000 in your first 3 months and you will be awarded a bonus of 60,000 points. This would equate to $750 in travel funds.
After this initial period, the points are distributed at a rate of 1 point per dollar spent, and 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants. When redeeming your rewards, 80 points will get you $1 to spend on travel. Otherwise, 100 points will get you a dollar for all other purchases.
In addition, cardholders will receive several benefits such as insurance against trip cancellations and interruption, extended warranty coverage, and auto rental collision damage waiver.
#2. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $0 First year. $95 after.
- Bonus Offer: 50, 000 points on $3000 expenditure in the first 3 months
- Reward Rate: 2 miles/dollar on regular purchases. 10 miles/dollar on hotel.com hotel rooms
- Interest Rate: 13.74% – 23.74%
The Capital One Venture Rewards Card is a milage based rewards card. In other words, the points you earn are given back as air miles which can be deducted from future travel. However, there is a lot of flexibility that comes along with the miles you earn.
To start with, your miles can be redeemed with hotels, airlines, cruises, car rentals and more. The miles are also valid with any company at any time. On top of this, you can also transfer your miles to be used with 12 other travel rewards programs. At the same time, you are entitled to a reimbursement of your $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® application fee.
The first year as a cardholder carries no charge, after which you will pay an annual fee of $95. You can earn a bonus of 50,000 points by spending over $3000 in your first 3 months. Once you settle beyond that initial bonus period you will earn two miles for every $1 you spend.
A partnership with Hotels.com means you will earn 10miles per dollar spent on their hotel rooms. In addition, Hotels.com also waves the charge for every tenth visit at their hotel. Another nice feature is that you can earn as many miles as you want and they will never expire.
#3. The Platinum Card from American Express
- Annual Fee: $550
- Bonus Offer: 60, 000 points on $5000 expenditure in the first 3 months
- Reward Rate: 1 point/dollar on regular purchases. 5 points/dollar when booking flights direct with airlines and hotels on amextravel.com.
- Interest Rate: N/A
This card is certainly a niche pick, and for a couple of reasons. First of all, The Platinum Card from American Express comes with a whopping $550 annual fee! Secondly, it only really makes sense for wealthy people who want to travel in luxury.
This is a card for someone who likes to make traveling as comfortable as possible. For that, you’re given access to the American Express global lounge collection – places to get pampered while you wait for your plane. There are also $200 credits for airline fees and uber rides thrown in for good measure.
Spending over $5000 in your first 3 months will get you 60,000 bonus points. These points carry a value of $600 for flights booked through American Express and their partners. Points are generally earned at a rate of 1 per dollar spent. However, this rises to five points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, and when booking prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
You are required to have excellent credit to be eligible for this card. In addition, successful applicants are reimbursed for their $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® application fee.
#4. Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
- Annual Fee: $0
- Bonus Offer: 30, 000 points on $3000 expenditure in the first 3 months
- Reward Rate: 1 point/dollar on regular purchases. 3 points/dollar on travel/food/gas/ purchases.
- Interest Rate: 0% for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. After 15.49%-27.49%.
Moving away from the super-luxury travel rewards card, Wells Fargo’s GoFar Rewards program is full of bonuses that can be redeemed in multiple ways, and for no annual fee.
After spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months you will earn 30,000 bonus points worth $300. In addition, you will earn three points per $1 when spending on restaurants, gas flights, hotels, car rentals and much more. Otherwise, you will earn 1 point per dollar.
For the first 12 months, you are offered a 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers.
Should it make sense you can also combine your points with the points of your family members for any joint vacation you might be considering. Paying your phone bill with this card also gives you insurance coverage for yours and three other phones.
The major downside with this – and any other American Express card – is that it is not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard.
#5. Discover it Miles
- Annual Fee: $0
- Bonus Offer: All miles earned in the first year are equally matched by Discover (earn 1 mile get 2).
- Reward Rate: (after the first year) 1.5 mile/dollar on all purchases.
- Interest Rate: 0% for 14 months. After 13.49% – 24.49%.
This card is notorious for its amazing first-year offer. First of all, you are rewarded 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on travel. Even more impressive though is the fact that Discover will match every mile you earn in your first year. Basically, if you earn 10,000 miles you will be rewarded 20,000 miles in total. If you plan on flying a lot this year you might want to look into getting this credit card.
There is no annual fee for this credit card and you pay no interest for the first 14 months that you are a cardholder. As with all the cards on this list, you will need excellent credit to be eligible for the card, but once you have it you can earn as many miles as you like with no danger of them expiring.
The first-year match reward is excellent but once that year runs down you are left with the 1.5 miles per dollar rate. When cashing your points in your receive 1 dollar per 100 miles and this can either be placed into your checking account or used on travel expenses.
#6. Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $0
- Bonus Offer: 25, 000 points on $1000 expenditure in the first 90 days
- Reward Rate: 1.5 points/dollar on all purchases.
- Interest Rate: 0% for 12 Billing Cycles. After 16.74% – 24.74%
This card makes it as easy as possible for you to earn and redeem their awards. 25,000 bonus points are offered for spending over $1000 in your first 90 days as a cardholder. You also have the opportunity to improve your earnings with the Preferred Rewards program.
There is no annual fee which is also an added bonus in its own right and you have the versatility to spend your rewards where and how you want. You will earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, and the points are unlimited with no expiry date.
When it comes to redeeming your points, this can be done as a statement credit in order to help pay for things such as flights, hotels, cruises, and rental cars. You also have 0% interest to pay for the first 12 billing cycles.
This card is usually better for people in medium earning brackets as large spenders can find better deals with other cards.
Rewards Cards Summary
The obvious thing to point out about these types of credit cards is that they favor you more the more you travel. If you are flying from one city to the next on a regular basis you will reap more rewards than those who travel less frequently.
From there, it is about whether you want to travel in style or not – or more a case of how much style do you want to travel in. The more you pay in annual fees the more you are likely to receive in luxury bonuses such as access to exclusive airport lounges.
Finally, it does take some diligence to redeem and earn these points properly. If you are considering getting one of these cards, then you more than likely already have several credit cards already, these different cards will all offer some kind of bonuses. In the end, it is up to you to find out which is the right card to use for each purchase.